Ted Keith over at SI.com with an interesting point for the best team in baseball:
I think the Dodgers’ success is starting to bore people. How else to explain the fact that baseball’s best team, with the most commanding division lead, doesn’t have a single player on pace to start in the All-Star Game? Obviously, Manny Ramirez‘s sampling of female fertility drugs could be a factor, but other than that, it’s hard to look at the Dodgers roster and see a deserving starter for the Midsummer Classic. That’s not to say they don’t have any popular players. Orlando Hudson, James Loney and Matt Kemp all have a well-deserved following among Dodgers fans. But only one Dodger is the Jared of his homeland.
I don’t know if I’d go with “boring”, but he’s right: it’s likely that no Dodger is going to be voted into the All-Star game as a starter. I don’t see any way that Jonathan Broxton doesn’t get a spot, and Chad Billingsley is more than worth as well, but fans don’t vote for pitchers. I mean, look at the lineup:
Catcher: Usually the best bet for All-Star glory over the last few years, in no small part to positional scarcity, Russell Martin’s been brutal this year. Start the All-Star game? How about, “is 17th in the NL in VORP among catchers.” That’s no typo. In a 16 team league, Martin is the 17th most valuable catcher. Where’s the macro for “shakes head, sadly”?
First base: James Loney hasn’t been bad, but when the competition consists of guys like Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez, & Prince Fielder, you need to be a hell of a lot better than that. First base in the NL is just stacked, and Loney’s got no prayer here.
Second base: Arguably the first-half Dodger MVP, Orlando Hudson has been outstanding. Unfortunately, even in what appears to be a career year, he’s still not even within sniffing distance of Chase Utley’s monster stats. This might be the best chance for a Dodger hitter to get named as a backup, but seeing as how the next two best 2B (Brandon Phillips & Freddy Sanchez) are both from lousy teams that might need to fill the “one player per team” requirement, Hudson may get squeezed out here.
Shortstop: Anyone want to write in “Juan Castro”?
Third Base: Like James Loney at first base, Casey Blake’s having a solid season, but nowhere near solid enough to overcome names like David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, and Chipper Jones. While his VORP is only 5th in the NL for 3B… his VORB (Value Over Replacement Beard) is at levels the Dodgers haven’t seen in decades.
Left Field: If Manny was still playing, he’d be almost a no-doubt choice here; hell, he’s disgraced and not playing and he’s still almost winning. Amazingly, the Dodgers somehow have two of the top six NL left fielders in terms of VORP, thanks to Juan Pierre. However, neither of them are getting chosen over Raul Ibanez and Ryan Braun. (Yes, I know the ballots don’t differentiate between outfield positions. I do.)
Center Field: Matt Kemp currently ranks 12th on the balloting, but that’s just because the general population is ignorant: by VORP, he’s the second most valuable center fielder in the league. However, since the man he’s behind, Carlos Beltran, is a bigger name, having a better season, and playing for a bigger market, Kemp’s got no shot to make it here. There’s a small chance he gets named as a backup, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Right Field: RF’s actually a total mess; Andre Ethier is 13th in the outfield balloting, and 4th in RF VORP. However, none of the four guys ahead of him in VORP – Justin Upton, Hunter Pence, or Brad Hawpe – are even on the balloting rankings. What’s that mean? Probably that no true right fielder makes it, and that we get to see Ryan Braun or Adam Dunn trying to stagger around right field.
So you might be saying to yourself, “damn, I thought we had a good team. How is it that none of our guys are going to get picked?” Just remember the extenuating circumstances: first of all, the All-Star Game is a total crock. It’s a popularity contest. It has no bearing on winning teams. Second, our best player got suspended, effectively taking him out of the running. Thirdly, this just goes to show that this is such a strong team all around. Only at two positions – C and SS – are the Dodgers completely outgunned, and oddly enough, those were two positions we expected to be strong at.